5 Best 380 ACP Pistols for Concealed Carry


Over the years, Gun Tests Magazine has reviewed more than 25 concealable pistols chambered in 380 ACP. Of these compact and subcompact handguns, here are our top five 380 handguns that our experienced testers believe you’ll like if you want to buy a handgun of this type.

As always, Gun Tests Magazine is supported by reader subscriptions only, so you can depend on these recommendations being free of monetization considerations on our posts or videos or social media traffic, and we don’t accept display advertising in the magazine. The sole basis for these recommendations is how the pistols worked during our testing with various shooters and various ammunition. If you’re in the market for a smaller 380 ACP handgun, here’s how we’d spend our money:

5. CZ 83 380 ACP, $330

This is a perennial winner in our 380 wrap-ups. Long out of production, this specific model is absolutely worth looking for at gun shows, pawn shops, and on line, but be prepared to pay more for one in tiptop condition. In our test, it did not suffer any type of stoppage. It was reliable, well made, and perhaps even overbuilt.

CZ 83, a perennial choice in 380 ACP

4. Springfield 911 Bi-Tone PG9109S 380 ACP, $559

We liked the Springfield 911. Unlike the full-size 1911 it mimics, the Springfield is suited to carrying hammer down instead of cocked and locked, an important consideration for pocket carry. We are generally not comfortable with the power level of the 380 ACP; however, loads like the Black Hills Ammunition Honey Badger and the Federal HST make the cartridge much more attractive than the previous choice of ball ammunition or a JHP that underpenetrates. The pistol is a joy to fire and use. It is more than accurate enough for personal defense.

Springfield Armory 911 PG9109S 380 ACP

3. Rock Island Armory Baby Rock 51912 380 ACP, $356

If you like cocked-and-locked carry, or even hammer down in the pocket, then you should make room for the Baby Rock, because it is quite a shooter. In combat drills there were no malfunctions of any type, and the pistol fired 100 rounds of mixed ammunition without issue. In combat firing, the pistol was far more accurate than pocket pistols. At 5 yards, a smooth DAO trigger is good enough for center hits, but by the time you get to 10 yards, the heavier weight of this solid-feeling 380 and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression of the single-action lockwork are great advantages over DAOs.

Rock Island Armory Baby Rock 51912 380 ACP

2. Ruger LCP-C Custom No. 3740 380 ACP, $419

The visible rear notch and front post of the Ruger are a big help in delivering accurate fire, we found. Although designed purely for personal defense, the Ruger is accurate enough to pop a rodent or reptile at a few yards, which is always an advantage. The Ruger was a compact package, with a length of 5.2 inches and a height of 3.8 inches, and it was only 0.8 inch thick. The frame was polymer. The recoil spring was tight, even stiff, but this is the price you have to pay for a small locked-breech pistol.

Ruger LCP Custom 3740 380 ACP

1. S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ 180023 380 ACP, $384

Originally tested in the August 2018 issue, we said then that the EZ was “EZ-ily among the most useful and attractive 380 ACP pistols we have tested” and gave it an A grade. In the July 2022 issue, we gave it an A- and said, it was a “good choice for home defense for those who cannot handle a larger chambering. As a carry gun, it isn’t smaller than some 9mm Luger handguns, but it is much easier to fire well. The demerit is for its power and terminal ballistics, and it is not a small gap.” The half-grade markdown was for the chambering, not the gun, which was compared to other EZ models chambered in 30 Super Carry and 9mm Luger. If you want a 380 ACP, this Shield is an EZ choice to make.

Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ 180023 380 ACP

Honorable Mentions

Bersa 380 Thunder Plus THUN380PM15 380 ACP, $352. January 2022. Grade A-

Glock 42 UI4250201 380 ACP, $360. November 2020. Grade A-

Colt Government Model MK IV Series 80 380 ACP, $400. November 2020. Grade A-

Kimber Micro Carry Advocate 380 ACP, $796. September 2015. Grade A-

Ruger LCP-CT 380 ACP, $559. January 2014. Grade A-

Note: All prices reflect actual retail purchase prices at the time of testing. Prices will likely have changed. Older pistols may still be available as NIB products or as used handguns. 

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  1. Where would you rank the Sig P238 in .380.? I thought for sure it would get at least an honorable mention. Solidly built and accurate…

  2. The Ruger LCPMax comes with a 10 round magazine and 12 round mags are available from the factory. It is only marginally larger in the grip than the 7 round version.
    Oh and the CZ 83 is a great pistol! Don’t forget the CZ 82 same gun in 9X18MAK (close enough in power to the 380, though .365 bullet diameter) uses the same magazine. The 82’s come with a painted slide that chips but it will take blueing well.

  3. S&W Shield EZ for the win! One caveat: the magazine springs need to be replaced with Wolff extra power springs. If you don’t, the last round hangs up in the pistol instead of feeding into the chamber. A word to the wise is sufficient.

  4. I’ll take my Sig 230 over anything shown here. Never had a fail to fire or any other problem. I only wish I had bought the stainless steel model cause I sweat a lot in the summer.

  5. Sig p365 in 380 is an excellent lil’ shooter. As is the sig p235. The cz 83 and 83 are the most accurate that I have ever shot. The Beretta 84 is not far behind
    . The demunitive kahr 380 is a surprise for as accurate as it is. I have enjoyed shooting these and many, many more for over 50 years. That makes me an antique too!

  6. Why you left out the Ruger LCP II, the LCP MAX or the BEST RUGER of the Bunch, the SECURITY-380? The barrel is way too short on the LCP to get any stopping power from a .380. The Beretta 70 series, 80 series and the Browning Black Label are the best .380’s for self-defense even if they are larger guns. the Turkish companies, Tisas and Girsan, make inexpensive clones of the 80 series with the Tisas Fatih (like the 84) and Girsan MT14T (like the 86 with the tip-up barrel).


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